Weaknesses of Esther and Plath Exposed in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
1174 WordsJun 18, 20185 Pages
Weaknesses of Esther and Plath Exposed in The Bell Jar
The glass of which a bell jar is constructed is thick and suffocating, intending to preserve its ornamental contents but instead traps in it stale air. The thickness of the bell jar glass prevents the prisoner from clearly seeing through distortion. Sylvia Plath writes with extreme conviction, as The Bell Jar is essentially her autobiography. The fitting title symbolizes not only her suffocation and mental illness, but also the internal struggle of Plath's alter ego and novel protagonist Esther Greenwood. The novel illustrates the theme confinement by highlighting the weaknesses of both Esther and Plath.
Esther's first statement, "It was a queer,…show more content…
In any case, the statement makes Esther's plight against pressure almost admirable and her willingness to be destroyed rather than limit herself almost heroic. The lines seem almost a mantra for women setting their own standards, challenging society's norms, and virtually breaking free of stereotypical confinement. Indeed, when considered presently, Plath is ahead of her time in suggesting that women need not choose but one fig; that is, one path to follow.
Confinement is present most prominently with the bell jar when Esther is "stewing in [my] on sour air " (185). The stale air chokes her spirit and in effect suffocates her ability to see clearly, not unlike the way entrapment between branches of a tree inhibits vision. One should note that the instances that highlight confinement are allegorical, therefore demonstrating Esther's sense of confinement as largely mental and the most obvious manifestation of her mental illness.
The reader is all but assured that Esther has been saved and will go on to choose at least one of many. " One fig was a husband, and a happy home and children" (77) which she often counters by claiming " I never want to get married." (83) and "children make me sick" (117). Yet, according to the first chapter, she does follow that path and, at least, has a life that contains a baby. Despite her initial feelings, Esther has been bred for the eventual role of